The Coconino County Board of Supervisors approved a new rural subdivision within the greater Flagstaff area last week.
The new development, called Walnut Creek Meadows, will include 50 new homes on just over a 151-acre section of property north of Townsend Winona Road that is owned by the Garlin Foster Trust in Flagstaff.
The homes will receive water from the Doney Park Water and will operate using individual onsite septic systems.
There would be two entrances and exits into the community, one off of Meadows Drive, with a second road connecting the community to North Copley Drive and Townsend Winona Road. The latter route would be designed and in place largely as an emergency access point for the community. Fire coverage will be provided by the Summit Fire District.
Roads within the subdivision will be privately owned but paved.
As the board discussed Walnut Creek Meadows, it proved to be uncontroversial and no members of the public spoke in opposing the proposal.
Indeed, one member of the public who said they live in Doney Park stated they believed it would only benefit the larger community.
And that appeared to be the unanimous belief of the supervisors as well.
“This is a well thought-out plan, this subdivision. It sounds like they have really worked closely with our staff,” said Vice Chair Lena Fowler.
There are parts of the project area that contain significantly steep slopes and a flood plain cuts through a section of the property farthest to the east.
But that flood plain has only been roughly mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and thus is fairly approximate.
Ian Braun with Civil Design & Engineering Inc. represented the developer and said they contacted FEMA as they were designing the project and found that the agency had essentially no information on the flood plain in question.
FEMA is expected to review and approve the new channel as the project moves forward.
As such, Braun said they took on the work of mapping the flood plain largely themselves.
“We obviously went through with best engineering practices, did a hydrology study, remapped the flood plain, so that is basically what is shown on our map and that is what FEMA will be accepting,” Braun said.
County staff said the developer has taken both the flood plain and steep slopes into account as they have designed the project. Per county code, on parcels that contain steep slopes or flooding risks, homes will be constructed in specific areas to avoid those risks.
Additionally, within the area of the flood plain, county staff said the developer plans to construct a channel that will hold stormwater and convey it to the south away from the community.
In doing so, the actual flood plain will be narrowed through the area substantially.
There are also between 150 and 200 prairie dog mounds across the 151 acres. One of the conditions requires the relocation of those animals.
Although they expect the impact of development on those animals to be fairly light, Braun said, they will be relocating about 100 prairie dogs offsite.
“We don’t anticipate actually that the road corridor or the construction will displace too many prairie dogs; the lots are quite big. But just as an effort to bring prairie dogs where they are needed in the petrified national forest, we agreed to do a translocation with 100 prairie dogs,” Braun said.
Fences installed will also be those best suited to allow animals such as pronghorn antelope to move through the area unimpaired.
Adrian Skabelund can be reached by phone at (928) 556-2261, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @AdrianSkabelund.